Qingdao has had a long and somewhat troubled history of international trade and direct contact with the outside world. It also has the largest industrial production in Shandong, as well as beautiful natural views within reach of the city and a vibrant tourism industry. The history and affluence combined with the local beauty of old German architecture, mixed with a handsome modern city and fantastic natural scenery, have made this one of China’s most livable and cosmopolitan cities. Though there are many interesting tourist attractions and beautiful outdoor destinations in Qingdao, people basically visit the city for three things: the beaches, the beer, and Laoshan.
Yes, Qingdao is the home to that most famous of all Chinese beers at the Tsingtao Brewery (Tsingtao is the same word as Qingdao, just a different romanization system), which was opened in 1903 by German immigrants. It currently holds 15% of the China beer market. Ownership of the company changed hands to the Japanese after the end of WWI and finally to the Chinese government after the end of WWII, but its distinctively crisp German lager style – its defining feature that distinguishes it from most other Chinese beers – remains to this day.
Qingdao’s old city is on the coast and is known for the red roof tiles of the European style villas found in the former concession. The old Qingdao railway station, also constructed in a European design, was opened in 1901 as part of the rail line connecting Qingdao with the German Concession in Ji’nan. Exploring the many districts where classic architecture has been preserved alongside the rapid development of new construction is one Qingdao’s best (and most overlooked) leisure activities.